Shaolin Kung Fu, also called Shaolin Wushu, is believed to be the oldest institutionalized style of kung fu and is one of the most famous martial arts. Shaolin kung fu originated and developed in the Shaolin Buddhist temple on Songshan Mountain, Henan Province, China. Some legends say that an Indian Buddhist priest named Bodhidharma (Tamo in Chinese), was the founder of Kung Fu. Bodhidharma traveled to China to see Emperor Wu of Liang (Xiāo Yān) sometime in AD 527.C.
The emperor had initiated a major project for local Buddhist monks to translate Buddhist texts from Sanskrit into Chinese. The emperor's intention was to allow the general population the ability to practice Buddhism freely without the need for the mind of a scholar. The Shaolin temple was founded in 495 by the Indian monk Batuo, or Buddhabhadra. After traveling to China, he received permission from Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty to build a temple at the foot of Shaoshi Mountain in the Song Range, Henan Province.
The word Lin means forest in Chinese, so the temple was named Shaolin after the forest at the foot of Shaoshi Mountain. Shao in Shaolin refers to Mount Shaoshi, a mountain in the Songshan mountain range. The lin in Shaolin means forest. Literally, the name means Monastery in the forest of Mount Shaoshi.
Shaolin Monastery is located in Henan Province, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Luoyang and 55 miles (88 kilometers) southwest of Zhengzhou on the western tip of Songshan. Mount Song, the center of China's four sacred Taoist peaks, is also known as the “middle sacred mountain”. Emperor Wu Di of the Han dynasty visited this mountain in 110 BC, E. The emperors of successive dynasties arrived in person or sent special envoys to pay tribute to Mount Song, and many memorial halls, Buddhist and Taoist temples, stone arches and inscribed tablets have been erected there over the years.
The Shaolin Monastery, which still houses 70 monks, is now a major tourist attraction, as well as a place of pilgrimage for monks and lay Buddhists. A training room has been built next to the monastery for foreigners who come to study Buddhism and martial arts. One of its greatest treasures are 18 frescoes, painted in 1828, depicting ancient monks in classic fighting poses. According to the continuing biographies of eminent monks (645 C, E.
By Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty. Yang Xuanzhi, in the register of Buddhist monasteries in Luoyang (547 C, E. The Jiaqing Chongxiu Yitongzhi (184) specifies that this monastery, located in Henan province, was built in the 20th year of the Taihe era of the Northern Wei dynasty, that is, the monastery was built in 497 C, E. The Indian dhyana master Batuo (, Batuo, also Fotuo or Buddhabhadra) was the first abbot of the Shaolin Monastery.
According to the recording of Deng Feng County (Deng Feng Xian Zhi), Batuó arrived in China in 464 C, E. And he preached Nikaya Buddhism () for 30 years. In 495, Shaolin Monastery was built by order of Emperor Xiaowen of northern Wei as a teaching center in Batuo. Kangxi, the second Qing emperor, was a supporter of the Shaolin temple in Henan and wrote the calligraphic inscription that, to this day, hangs above the temple's main gate.
Another Indian monk, Bodhidharma or Da Mo, arrived at Shaolin Monastery. According to the Song of Enlightenment (Zhèngdào gē) of Yngjiā Xuánjué (665-71), one of the chief disciples of Huìnéng, sixth patriarch of Chán, Bodhidharma was the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism in a line of descent of Buddha Śākyamuni through his disciple Mahākāśyapa, and first patriarch arch of chan buddhism. Shaolin monks say they were introduced to Chan Buddhism (similar to Japanese Zen Buddhism) to the Shaolin temple in Henan, China, during the 6th century. Bodhidharma also taught what the monks called “18 hands of the Lohan” (healthy and non-combative exercises), which are said to be the origin of the martial arts of kung fu.
According to legend, Bodhidharma meditated in solitude for nine years in front of a cave wall in the mountains above the monastery. It remained motionless for so long that the sun burned its outline on a stone, which can still be seen on the wall of the cave. Shaolin Temple is associated with the development of Chinese martial arts, particularly Shaolin kung-fu. Various styles of Chinese martial arts, such as Jiao Di (the forerunner of Shuai Jiao), Shou Bo kung fu (Shang dynasty) and Xiang Bo (similar to Sanda, from the 600s B, C, E.
Huiguang and Sengchou, two of Bátuó's first disciples, were accomplished martial artists and some say they were the creators of what would become Shaolin kungfu. In 621 C, E. Thirteen armed Shaolin monks rescued him in Luo Yang and drove the troops out of Shi-chong at the Battle of Qianglingkou. When Li Shan Ming ascended the throne as Emperor of Taizong, he invited Shaolin monks to demonstrate their art in court.
The emperor gave a lavish feast and sent a stone tablet engraved with the names of the monks who had saved him to Shaolin. He appointed the chief monk, Tang Zong, general and rewarded the Temple with a 40-hectare estate and grain supplies. Shaolin Temple was allowed to train 500 warrior monks. During the Ming dynasty (1368 -164) Shaolin kung fu flourished.
The Temple maintained an army of 2500 men, and countless variants and techniques were developed. The monks studied weapons techniques, chi gong, meditation and forms of boxing. According to Ju Ke, in the Qing bai lei chao (191), accounts of the Qing dynasty that destroyed the Shaolin temple may refer to a southern Shaolin temple, located in Fujian province. In addition, some martial arts historians, such as Tang Hao and Stanley Henning, believe that the story is probably fictional and appeared only at the end of the Qing period in sensational novels and literature.
The Shaolin Temple complex contains several interesting buildings and sites. The first building, the Shanmen Hall, consecrates the Buddha Maitreya. The sides of the corridor behind the door of the hall are lined with inscriptions on stone steles of various dynasties, and two stone lions made in the Ming dynasty (1368-164) crouch under the stairs. The gate of the Hall of Heavenly Kings (Tianwangdian) is protected by two figures representing Vajra (Buddhist warriors), and contains figures of the Four Heavenly Kings.
Eighteen Buddhist arhats are located along the east and south walls of the Mahavira Hall (Daxiongbaodian, Hall of the Thousand Buddha), where regular prayers and important celebrations are held. Next to the statues of Buddhas from the Middle East, East and West are the figures of Kingnaro and Bodhiharma. Stone lions over one meter (about 3.33 feet) tall sit at the foot of the pillars. The room contains a carved jade sculpture of the Amitabha Buddha and a mural painting of the 500 lohan (“worthy”) covering three sides of it.
About fifty depressions, each about 20 centimeters (approximately 7.87 inches) deep, were used on the ground by monks practicing martial arts. The Pagoda Forest, a cemetery of Buddhist monks, is the largest pagoda complex in China. It contains 220 pagodas, averaging less than 15 meters (about 49 feet) tall, with the shape and number of floors in each pagoda indicating the prestige, status and achievements of each monk. A “stele forest” contains inscriptions by many famous calligraphers, including Su Shi and Mi Fu.
Outside the temple, to the northwest, there are two monasteries, the Monastery of the Ancestors and the Monastery of the Second Ancestor. The first was built by a disciple of Bodhidharma to commemorate his nine years of meditation in a cave. Its large hall is supported by 16 stone pillars with exquisitely carved warriors, dancing dragons and phoenixes. The second monastery was built for his successor, the “second ancestor” Huike, who cut off his left arm to show the sincerity of his desire to study Buddhism from the Dharma.
In front of the monastery are four springs called “Spring Zhuoxi”, which are said to have been created by Bodidharma so that Huike could easily fetch water; each has its own distinctive flavor. The Dharma Cave, where Bodhidharma meditated for nine years before founding Chan Buddhism, is seven meters (about 23 feet) deep and three meters (about 9.8 feet) high, carved with stone inscriptions. The current temple buildings date back to the Ming (1368—164) and Qing (1644-191) dynasties. In 1928, warlord Shi Yousan set fire to the monastery and burned it for more than 40 days, destroying 90 percent of the buildings, including many manuscripts in the temple library.
The Cultural Revolution launched in 1966 targeted religious orders, including the monastery. The five monks who were present at the monastery when the Red Guard attacked were handcuffed and forced to carry placards stating the crimes they were charged with. The monks were publicly flogged and paraded through the streets while people threw garbage at them and then imprisoned them. The government purged Buddhist materials from the walls of the monastery, leaving it barren for years.
Martial arts groups around the world have made donations for the maintenance of the temple and grounds, and are consequently honored with carved stones near the entrance to the temple. The origin of Shaolin Kung-Fu is generally attributed to an Indian monk named Tat Moh, who is sometimes also known as Boddhidharma. He began his life as a prince in South India, but became a devoted Buddhist, renouncing his royal heritage to adopt the simple lifestyle of a monk. He traveled extensively, spreading the teachings of Buddhism.
He eventually rose to become the 28th patriarch of India. Popular sayings in Chinese folklore related to this practice include: All martial arts under the sky originated in Shaolin and Shaolin kung fu is the best under the sky, indicating the influence of Shaolin kung fu among martial arts. According to some sources, the original Shaolin Kung Fu was too powerful, so it was replaced by Wu Shu, a less aggressive form of martial arts. Although many people believe that Chinese martial arts originated in Shaolin Temple, there is some evidence to suggest that Chinese martial arts were well developed before the Shaolin Temple was built.
It combines Ch'an philosophy and martial arts and originated and developed at Shaolin Temple in Henan Province, Greater China, during its 1500 year history. Bodhidharma also taught what the monks called “18 hands of the Lohan,” physical exercises that are said to be the origin of tai chi chuan, and other methods of unarmed fighting, such as kung fu. It is unknown whether these were established as competitors to the Songshan Temple or represented an extension of the original Shaolin Temple. Meir Shahar lists the martial arts T'ai chi ch'uan, Chang Family Boxing, Bāguaquan, Xingyìquan and Bajiquan as originating in this region and this period of time.
Originally used as an exercise, Kung Fu finally had to be used to attack assailants after monastery assets. Today, Shaolin Temple is a practicing Buddhist temple where adaptations of the original Shaolin Kung Fu are taught. . .